Argentina's Presidential Election 'Good News' For China
Concerns Over China's Influence in Latin America Continue
Last week, analysts called the results of Argentina's presidential election earlier in October was "good news for China," Voice of America reported.
No candidate secured an outright majority. However, analysts believe that the surprise front-runner, Sergio Massa, is most likely to ensure that the country maintains its strong ties with China.
After placing third in the August primary, Massa, the ruling Peronist coalition candidate and current economy chief, captured nearly 37% of the vote over the weekend, defeating two other contenders who questioned Argentina's relationship with Beijing.
The country's struggling economy was a central focus in theelection. Under Massa and other current government officials' watch, Argentina has experienced a rise in poverty and triple-digit inflation. If Massa wins the runoff election next month, experts suggest that China's ambitious economic and strategic plans for Argentina, the second-largest country in South America, may not face the scrutiny some desire.
Javier Milei, an anti-establishment candidate, secured second place in the election. In an August interview with Bloomberg, Milei referred to China as an "assassin" and pledged to freeze relations with Beijing if elected. Former Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, a mainstream conservative, finished in third place and expressed her intention to reassess Argentina's ties with China before the election.
With Bullrich out of the race, Milei and Massa will proceed to a runoff election on November 19.
China's Influence in Argentina
Over the years, China has established strategic agreements with successive Argentine administrations. Through currency swap agreements and other lending measures, China has bailed out Argentina while simultaneously increasing the country's debt to Beijing, according to analysts interviewed by VOA. These deals have raised concerns among lawmakers and presidential candidates.
Gustavo A. Cardozo, an Argentine scholar specializing in his country and China, believes that Massa is the least likely to review the existing deals with Beijing. This suggests that Argentina's relationship with China will likely continue on its current trajectory if Massa emerges victorious in the runoff election.
As the election heads into the decisive stage, the future of Argentina's ties with China hangs in the balance. The outcome of the runoff election will determine whether the country maintains its close relationship with Beijing or reevaluates its economic and strategic cooperation.